Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Another blog is on the way.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mexico: Not Quite a Round Trip

Spoiler alert: This post--the last about my trip to the Yucatan--is going to be a little personal, maybe even Hallmarky.

You know those cards that feature a riderless horse racing along a beach? If the card is for sale in the red states, the message inside will say Be joyful! God has plans for you. In the blue states, the card will either be blank (so as not to constrain the sender's freedom of expression by putting words in her mouth) or will feature a fragment of a Rilke quote: Live the questions--and . . . enjoy! 

I live in a blue state, always have. I wouldn't survive in a red state. I'd piss so many people off by asking personal questions and teasing out hypocrisies--in my maddeningly polite but actually very aggressive way--that I'd be ostracized within a week. My M.O. in life has been to poke holes in others' certainties while respecting the fundamental value of the people that hold them. I've been argumentative, but most of the time I've also been generous. I've tried to show up when I could help. And I've been honest, usually, about my own failings. I've fought the good fight, in my small way, for open-mindedness and inclusion, for kindness, for not having to be perfect.  Live the questions! I've said. It's not so bad! Enjoy!

Meanwhile, in my heart of hearts, I've nurtured some pretty dreadful certainties of my own.

One version of the infamous hockey stick graph. Not good news.
Since I read The Limits to Growth in the 70s, it's been pretty clear to me that economies couldn't keep growing, that we couldn''t keep buying whatever struck our fancy, that we shouldn't look for heroes or try to be heroes ourselves but learn instead to lead humble, useful lives. If we failed to turn our thinking around, our cultural assumptions, we would ruin the planet we lived on. And we have. I have. But that's not one of the certainties I referred to above.

Those certainties follow: There is
  • No point in trying to live a satisfying life between now and the predicted 50-gigaton release of methane that will wipe us all out within years. 
  • No point in continuing to grow up, learn, heal.
  • No point in writing my stories about generosity to self and others. (Only a tiny fraction of them ever get published anyway.) 
  • No point in looking for people who see what I see (there are a lot more of these people now than there used to be) and clinging to them. Who has that much energy?
  • No point in feeling any feeling that doesn't take our impending doom into consideration.
  • No point in grieving that doom in a way that might release me from the inchoate haze I've been in.
  • No point in opening the door to see what's outside this poisonous culture. The door is stuck. And what if I manage to open it and then lock myself out? If I change my circumstances before the methane changes them for me, what if the new life is too hard, too exhausting, too unpleasant? What if I'm not up to it? 
Carolyn and Anyaa
Some of these certainties aren't so certain, you'll notice. They are questions but not the kind that you live into. These are the kind that stop you cold.

Where is Mexico in all this? I met some people there who have found a way to carry on, to make change, to invite others along, to live today, no matter how many more todays we have. (Live the questions, and . . . enjoy!    But also grow and act.)  I met Israel MayCarolyn Baker, Gary Stamper, Anyaa McAndrews, Clinton Callahan, and other lesser known but equally fabulous people. I left and came home, but home doesn't look the same.